HOPSA Dress Tracks
There are several options to consider when trying to put in a HOPSA Dress track depending on where the track is going and the liability requirements for that area. Penrickton Center for Blind Children prefers to use a track that is made to lift individuals who have the weight and height of children under the age of 12 since this is the age group primarily served there. It is a good idea to check with your school or agency administrators to determine considerations related to liability insurance.
A lift system like those used in hospitals, therapy rooms, and nursing facilities to lift patients who cannot walk can be used. Many medical companies produce them, and typically you can work with a vendor in your area to determine exactly what you need. At Penrickton Center they have a system that now includes straight tracks, H-tracks, and locking H-tracks. This works for different children at different stages of learning.
Use the internet, type in “overhead ceiling lifts”, and you will get pictures of different motors and tracks. Then search companies in your area that support installing these tracks. We recommend meeting with three different vendors to discuss options and pricing. Be sure to provide an exact description of the type and configuration of the track and ask a lot of questions to insure you get what best meets your needs.
You can use a manual pulley system instead of an electronic motor (which is more expensive), but the motors are great if you can afford them.
Initially Penrickton Center used a track system designed to be part of playground or gym equipment. These may be referred to as zip lines. These work as well and are cheaper, but you need to have the support system in place to hold the units. Penrickton purchased a “flying trapeze” system from Southpaw Enterprises (approximate cost – $1,800) and this can be used inside a building. There are others that can be used outside in a playground area. A portable lift can be attached to it, but a pulley system can also be used. Just make sure that any track is installed high enough to allow for the height of the pulley system and the HOPSA dress.
There are also some cheaper ways of doing things. Staff at Penrickton Center used a track that was already in their building and meant to be a room divider track like those you might see at a large hotel ballroom. They had an engineer evaluate it to determine if it would support the weight of our children. The room divider panels were removed, and eye hooks were attached to the track. Any alteration to any existing track system should be evaluated for use by an engineer or other appropriate individual.
Below are some pictures of the tracks and switches used at the Penrickton Center for Blind Children. Their system allows children to move very freely around the activity space through on their own.
Sonya Using a HOPSA Dress
Description: In the video shown below we can see how this H-track system allows for access to the larger play space at Penrickton.
When this video was made, Sonya had been using the HOPSA dress for more than two years, but had never moved more than a few feet. It took years of practice moving just very short distances, and over time she developed an understanding of the spatial relationship of where she was in the room. She is demonstrating the cognitive skills necessary to “trail furniture” or “cruise on furniture” even though she doesn’t have the physical skills to do so. You will see in the video that Sonya has poor head control and she is working on lifting her head up in a standing position while in the HOPSA dress.
Sonya has one hip out of socket, but uses the other leg to move herself around the room. Her orthopedic surgeon is aware of the position of her hips and agreed that the use of the HOPSA dress was a good idea, as it encourages her to move her legs (as well as other body parts). Sonya is unable to roll over or sit up by herself, but in this video we see that in the HOPSA dress she is able to move around and explore her environment independently.